Issue of November 21, 2021
     
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EDITORIAL

NOT LETTING OUR GUARD DOWN IN REVIVING TOURISM


As tourists slowly trickle in to Baguio City, it is time to test the much-publicized plan to limit the number of people to be allowed entry to the Summer Capital to address the long-time concern of this mountain resort of exceeding its carrying capacity, especially during peak tourist season.

The City Tourism and Special Events Office reported the number of tourists and essential travelers who came to Baguio recently is still low compared to the usual number of guests before the pandemic.

Of the 2,000 tourists per day limit, the Ctseo said the number of tourists who arrived on the last week of October to the first week of November exceeded the limit set by the city government to stem the spread of the Covid-19 infection once tourism-related activities are allowed. This excludes essential travelers who might have included leisure in their itinerary but were able to enter the city’s borders as authorized personnel.

If the city government is indeed bent on regulating the number of tourists, then the initial set of mechanisms it has set in place should be strictly and properly implemented now and in the future. Who exactly are tourists and essential travelers should be defined, for no matter the classification, both contribute to the number of people coming in and out of the city.

When tourists were allowed entry beyond the cap set by the city government, are we made to understand that rules will be bent especially when more people are willing to spend their money in Baguio?

Allowing most affected businesses during the lockdowns and community quarantines to slowly recover is most welcome, as our economy already needs to reopen but policies and regulations should be in place to ensure that problems associated with an excessive number of tourists will be avoided.

Helping our once robust tourism industry get back on its feet should no longer be at the expense of the residents who have become averse to the presence of tourists because of the inconvenience brought about by having more people, vehicles, and heightened levels of pollution in the city.

We appreciate that City Hall has already directed concerned offices to come up with a post-Covid tourism recovery plan and we hope this plan will strictly consider the fact that the achievements gained in revitalizing Baguio’s ecology during the quarantine should not go to waste once we open our borders sans restrictions.

The city had a good start when it created a visitor registration portal and partnered with other local government units for the experimental tourism bubble. In fact, these innovations became a benchmark for other tourist destinations, but merely counting the number of visitors is just the start.

Now, more than ever, Baguio should strengthen the campaign on responsible tourism that should apply not only to visitors but also to residents.

Stakeholders and the community in general should help reinforce the fact that more than the usual picture-taking and shopping for souvenirs are the need to preserve and conserve destinations for the future generations to also see, enjoy, and experience.

Baguio has proven time and again that it remains a resilient city and could rise from adversities, and a paradigm shift from our pre-pandemic experience might even help revitalize our edge in the tourism industry more responsibly this time, we hope.
 

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